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Climate Negotiations Debrief: What do the Lima results mean for the world, a future agreement, and business?

When:

January 22, 2015

Where:

Washington, DC (and via teleconference)


This panel addressed the current status of international climate negotiations. Panelists recapped the developments at the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, discussed prospects for a future treaty in Paris in 2015, and what it will all mean for businesses and governments. Our speakers provided a balanced perspective from different countries (i.e., the US and China/developing nations), governments, NGOs, and the private sector.

At international climate negotiations in Lima, countries around the world agreed on the substance and procedure to submit their proposed measures to combat climate change for inclusion in a future agreement applicable to all countries. The Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also commenced work on a draft text to form the basis for the future agreement to be decided in Paris in December 2015 and implemented by 2020.

Lima marks a turning point in many respects, steadily shifting international climate obligations under the UNFCCC away from bright-line differences between developed and developing countries. The Lima decisions still recognize the Parties’ common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances,” yet make no reference to Annex I and non-Annex I countries. Hence, it is becoming increasingly evident that a future agreement will leave it to each country to determine its appropriate and most ambitious level of climate action. Although such a strategy may lack the imprimatur of an internationally legally binding agreement, it serves to broaden participation amongst all Parties, hoping that collective action and pressure can spur ambitious action by each country.

Speakers:

  • Sue Biniaz – US Department of State, former Deputy Legal Adviser.  Sue has been the State Department's lead climate change lawyer for more than 20 years.
  • Paul Joffe - Senior Foreign Policy Counsel, World Resources Institute.  Paul works with policy makers and stakeholders on international climate and energy law and policy issues relating to key developing countries and climate negotiations, including providing strategic advice and analysis for WRI’s China climate and energy information project (ChinaFAQs.org).
  • Annie PetsonkInternational Counsel – Climate & Air, Environmental Defense Fund.  Annie has been actively engaged in international climate negotiations since before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and also teaches international environmental law at GW Law School.
  • Norine Kennedy – Vice President of Energy and Environmental Affairs, US Council for International Business. Norine has represented business interests at UN environmental conferences since the UN’s 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

Moderator:

Andrew Schatz – Associate, DLA Piper LLP; member of Georgian national delegation  at UNFCCC negotiations